Chipotle’s Barbacoa

Chipotle Barbacoa is tender shredded beef slow-cooked in smokey, flavorful spices. Now, instead of leaving the house to stand in line at Chipotle, you can easily prepare it yourself and enjoy the smell of the simmering barbacoa all day. It will easily feed a big family, and even the kids love it!

If you’re using a frozen chuck roast, be sure to thaw it overnight before cooking it. The recipe below calls for a 2-pound beef chuck roast. It may seem like a lot, but go ahead and cook the whole thing, and you freeze a portion of it for future meals.

You likely already have most of the spices already, especially if you prepare a lot of Mexican food dishes. You can also substitute the canned peppers for any you have on hand. This recipe is very simple, and it takes just a few minutes of prep time. Make sure to sear the roast on a pan or skillet before putting it into the slow cooker, as this adds depth to the meat. Once all of the ingredients are in the slow cooker, all you have to do is wait a few hours, and you’ll have the most tender, juicy barbacoa – just like Chipotle.

Serve the barbacoa in a bowl with your favorite fresh toppings or in a large tortilla for a delicious barbacoa burrito.

Be sure to check out our notes below to help ensure you have the most tender meat possible.

Prep Time Cook Time Total Time
25 min 6 hours 6 h 25 m


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (2 pound) beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 4 to 6 pieces
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, or more to taste
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper, or more to taste (optional)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream for toppings
  • Flour tortillas (optional)


Preparing the Barbacoa

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over low heat, gradually increasing heat to medium-high. Add the beef chuck pieces, and cook until browned, about 30 seconds per side. Once it’s seared and lightly browned, transfer the beef to the slow cooker.
  • Combine apple cider, chipotle peppers, lime juice, garlic, cumin, serrano pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, black pepper, garlic powder, salt, and ground cloves in a blender or food processor. Blend until it becomes a smooth sauce. Pour the sauce over the beef in the slow cooker.
  • Stir the chicken broth, onion, and bay leaves into the slow cooker.
  • Close the lid, and cook on low until the beef is fork-tender, which will be 6 to 8 hours.
  • Shred the beef using 2 forks.

Serving the Barbacoa

  • You can serve the barbacoa in a bowl topped with cilantro, lime, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream. Or you can serve the barbacoa and toppings in a large flour tortilla as a burrito.


  • If you’re looking for even more depth to the flavor, you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and marinate the beef in it overnight.
  • Before cutting the roast into 2-inch cubes, trim as much of the visible fat as possible from the outside of the roast and any large fat veins on the inside.
  • For more Chipotle foods you can make at home, try out our Chipotle Steak Recipe, Chipotle Chicken Recipe, and Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe.


barbacoa recipe nutrition

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